By Lofton Wheeles
For the Opelika Observer
From the creators of Crepe Myrtle Café, Blooming Colors and Chicken Salad Chick comes a new place that will plant fresh memories and experiences within the community.
Botanic is a new business founded by husband-and-wife duo King Braswell and Stacy Brown that will be located at the old Cock of the Walk building near Tiger Town in the future. The building will function as a garden retail center, entertainment area and a farm-to-table restaurant featuring Southern cuisine.
“I think Botanic really in a nutshell is an embodiment of the passions of a lot of people that are building this place and that are going to work here afterward,” Braswell said. “[These are] passions that they believe in that will ultimately serve others and create life experiences for people who work here and the people that visit here. And I think that, basically, service is an embodiment of what we do.”
Brown also discussed her thoughts on how the vision for Botanic came to be.
“It’s actually COVID that kind of pushed our ideas into fruition,” she said. “It became so apparent that we were all craving experiences and connection and things that technology cannot replace because we were all forced to be in our homes and we really depended on technology so much to continue on with our daily lives and it really showed the need and the void for what we hope to provide here.”
Both founders have had experience under their belts when opening and operating businesses. However, according to Brown, Botanic is a bit different from their previous business ventures.
“Chicken Salad Chick was geared for a very focused day part … so it was just very focused,” she said. “I’m glad in hindsight that it was a smaller, focused area, because I have this experience behind me in building a business, then King has his 20-plus years of experience in his industry. It still gives me the same butterflies about opening a new business and this one is a much larger scope of a business.
“So, it’s still a first-time situation just like Chicken Salad Chick was … but we have much more experience behind us this time around in creating this kind of business and it’s so much fun. I love to create, and King loves to create, so we’re having a blast coming up with the different things we want to offer.”
Braswell, whose passion is all things horticulture and service, described Botanic as “a dream come true.”
“It has all the elements that I could ever have wanted for a full circle horticultural business that embodies all of the elements of horticulture that I think are relevant,” he said. “Horticulture, which is my chosen path at Auburn University, embodies a lot of things that people really don’t even understand. If it weren’t for horticulture, you wouldn’t have fruit production, vegetable production, flower production and plant production.”
The two are repurposing and bringing new life into the building that formerly housed Cock of the Walk.
“We’re embracing a lot of the wonderful things that people remember about this place and then we’re bringing it back to life in a new way,” she said. “One thing that’s been really great as we’ve been building [is that] people have come in just curious about what’s going on here and they drive in, look around and some come in wanting to talk and a lot of people have shared with us about the memories that they had here when it was Cock of the Walk and how special it was to them and they would come here on special occasions.
“So we want to revitalize the property but also continue to be a place where people come to make memories so we will have a lot of geared activities to experiences and that the kids will be able to come feed the fish and the turtles and listen to music under the tree and there are experiences for everybody whether it’s kids, families or a groups of friends, there will be something for everyone.”
While the revitalization has had some challenges along the way, the two have learned to make the best of the work there is to be done.
“Preserving the wonderful things about [the old building] and figuring out how to work in the new brings its own challenges, but it’s fun to figure all of those things out,” Brown said. “King is extremely creative and I’m a creative person, so our ideas build off of each other and spur on new thoughts and the entire project has been an evolution of thought and it seems to evolve daily.”
The two also strive to create an incomparable experience for the Auburn-Opelika community in several ways with Botanic.
“I think the entire visit will be a unique experience from the guest service, from the facility, from our outdoor garden dining with a retractable roof and from dining over the pond, so that’s unique,” Brown said. “Also, the fact you can come in and while you wait for a table, you can enjoy a cocktail, you can shop, you can listen to music, you can do the activities that we’ve provided for outside [that are] all things that families can join in and do together while they wait on their dining experience to begin.
“And there are things to do when you’re finished so if you want to continue to listen to music outside, we have lots of fun things planned that people can make plans to attend.”
Overall, the two said they are excited for several aspects regarding Botanic, but there is one that Braswell keeps coming back to: the memories.
“I’m really just mostly excited that we can hopefully give lots of people a great experience that they can take with them to savor and lots of memories,” he said. “That’s really what this place is all about, creating memories with your family.”
While the business does not have a concrete opening date, Braswell stated that “every day that we complete our work here is one day closer to opening.”
Brown also wanted to reassure fans of the now defunct Cock of the Walk that “the turtles are OK and thriving.”
To get updates on Botanic, head on over to its Facebook page facebook.com/shopbotanic.